May 24th 2014, @ Saitama

May 24th, 2014

Tokyo Swallows 8Lions

Saitama Seibu Lions 12

Streak: Lost 1   Last 5: WLLWL

Seibu Dome Streak: LLLLLLLLLLWL

(Seibu Dome)

Tokyo finally broke a 10-game losing streak in Saitama, but they may very well have embarked on a new one this afternoon.

W: Kishi (6-2; 2.28 ERA)
L: Narveson (1-5; 5.09)

This game sucked kind of hard. Especially if you actually went and sat through it.

Yamada (2B)1Akiyama (CF)
Miwa (RF)2Yamasaki (SS)
Kawabata (3B)3Kuriyama (LF)
Balentien (LF)4Nakamura (3B)
Yuhei (CF)5Mejía (1B)
Hatakeyama (1B)6Asamura (2B)
Araki (SS)7Abreu (RF)
Aikawa (C)8Sumitani (C)
Narveson (P)9Kishi (P)

Narveson had a hard time finding the strike zone early. He walked two of the first three batters he faced and then saw his 1-1 fastball taken yard by Nakamura with runners on first and second. Three consecutive base hits with two outs compounded the misery by adding two more runs before Narveson was able to earn a short rest by striking out Saitama starter, Kishi.

0-5 Saitama
Yamada got one back for the birds in the top of the third when he got hold of a 2-2 heater and plopped on the slope in left. It was his seventh home run of 2014.
1-5 Saitama
But the Lions reestablished the five run lead in the bottom of the third on a pair of hits by brand new Saitama residents, Mejía and Abreu.
1-6 Saitama
Tokyo got a little help in the top of the fourth and scored one more run. A fielding error at short allowed Yuhei to score from third on Aikawa’s grounder with two outs. Narveson was yanked in favor of Morioka’s hot bat, but the inning ended on his ground ball to first.
2-6 Saitama
Sanada took the mound for the birds in the bottom of the fourth and things quickly got ugly. Even though he benefitted from a Tak-bunt and then another ground out, Sanada allowed Saitama to hit for the cycle over the next four batters (Nakamura RBI 1B, Mejía 2B, Asamura 3RBI HR, Abreu 3B). Lion’s catcher, Sumitani, mercifully lined out to second to stop the hemorrhaging.

2-10 Saitama

Akagawa made his first appearance of the season in the bottom of the fifth. He gave up a double but got out of the inning unscathed. The same could not be said for the sixth when he was asked to record another three outs. The very potent Nakamura drew a lead off walk after fouling off six pitches. He was replaced by a pinch runner who then made it to third on Mejía’s single to right. One out later, Abreu collected his fourth hit and third RBI of the afternoon. Akagawa was let of the hook when Sumitani grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

2-11 Saitama

But your birds decided that they weren’t going to let this game end too quickly. With Kishi still on the mound for the Lions, and his pitch count already well over 100, Hiyane drew a six pitch walk. Yamada followed with a single on the sixth pitch he saw. Yuichi’s pinch-hit single (batting for Akagawa) and Kawabata’s ground out to third scored one run each. Then Balentien decided it was time for Kishi to get his arm iced down. On pitch number seven, a full count slider on the outside of the plate, Balentien sent home run number 16 into the stands in left.

6-11 Saitama

After Tokyo rookie Iwahashi’s 1-2-3 effort in the bottom of the seventh, the birds again applied pressure. Araki’s first hit of the game was followed by an Aikawa beaning. Next man up, Hiyane, hit a liner that ricocheted off the pitcher and found its way into no-man’s-land. Araki, Aikawa, and Hiyane were able to take two bases before someone finally got their hand on the ball (Araki scored). The pitcher, Toyoda, was promptly removed from the game, and Bowden took his place on the mound. I guess Hiyane was just sticking up for the team’s aging backstop. Payback’s poopy, as they say.  Yamada added another run with his ground out to third.

8-11 Saitama

But as had been true the entire game, the Swallows pitching wasn’t able to keep the Lions of the board for to innings in a row. With Ishiyama now on the mound, Tokyo surrendered a one out double to former Gomiuri infielder, Wakiya, and then saw him reach home on Mejía’s fourth hit of this contest.

8-12 Saitama

But Tokyo again pushed back in the top of the ninth, just to make sure that this was a truly, unforgettably heart-wrenching experience for any Tokyo fans who managed to stay in their seats up to this point. Saitama closer, Takahashi, loaded the bases (Balentien 1B, Tanaka 2B, Araki BB) with one out. Up came Aikawa who had been plunked in his last at-bat. The 1-1 pitch was a forkball, and his knock to the left side of the infield resulted in a game-ending double play.

8-12 Final

Your birds return to the roost (Jingu Stadium) tomorrow to host the Tohoku Eagles on Sunday and Monday. If either of those games gets rained out, then a make-up day is scheduled for Tuesday. Yagi will take the mound for the Swallows tomorrow evening. First pitch is scheduled for 6 PM.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini